Dr Geoff Hinchcliffe with coasters made from laser-cut wood. Photo by Lannon Harley.

Dr Geoff Hinchcliffe with coasters made from laser-cut wood. Photo by Lannon Harley.

Drink coasters worth talking about

Where do you start if you're trying to invent an engaging method to visualise climate change data? Ross Peake reports.

Researchers at ANU considered graphs and pie charts to display climate data, before some lateral thinking threw up the idea of drink coasters.

The coasters visualise 12 months of climate data against long-term averages for Australian capital cities.

Each coaster shows two rings representing climate data: the inside ring compares daily temperatures to that location’s long-term average, while the outer ring shows the same visualisation for monthly temperatures.

Sitting on desks, bars or tables, the coasters should prompt discussion and reflection on Australia’s rapidly changing climate.

“They are engaging in a way that traditional graphs just aren’t,” Dr Mitchell Whitelaw from the ANU School of Art and Design says.